In my family, we have some very weird and wacky traditions that I will be sharing with you in the run up to Christmas. First one:
Decorating the Tree
Christmas only comes once a year! And what a fantastic time of year it is. As I may have stated previously, I absolutely love this time of year, and sometimes that spills over in glittering, gift wrapped excitement. This year was no exception. My first question to my dad as I hopped in the car at the end of term was “When are we decorating?!” This tradition in our family is by far one of my favourites. The setting up of our freshly cut tree, familiar songs being played, log fire, Dad roaming around with the video camera and my sister and I arguing about whose turn it is too put the rather battered angel on top of the tree. It all ends with mince pies and usually watching The Snowman, by far the best Christmas classic. I am very particular about how we decorate the tree, building around a previously decided colour scheme and the right song has to be played to start this process off, etc etc.
And so, after a lovely few days away in Exeter with my best friend in the world, I arrived home Wednesday evening to see the boxes had been pulled down from the attic, over flowing with glorious decorations. There I was, bouncing around the living room, our traditional Christmas CD on full blast, my monogrammed Santa hat firmly on my head. I felt that warm glow in my chest, occasionally bubbling up in high pitched squeaks of joy.
Then came the first bump in the festivities.
No Christmas tree had been bought. My dad felt that since we are away for most of the holidays, including Christmas, this year we would just use our small….FAKE…tree! After the initial rabbit-in-the-headlights moment, I recovered and decided I could work with that. So the merriment returned…until I looked around, tangled in coloured lights, to discover my only happy-little-helper, was the dog. Mom had gone to bed, Dad and sister were watching some ridiculous french program and I was left, abandoned to the impossible task of the lights. Needless to say, this was not ideal. A lump formed in my throat and the songs playing suddenly seemed hollow and repetitive. It seemed Christmas was not to be the same.
So I did what any mature, grown up 19 year old girl whose Christmas spirit had just been crushed would do. I had a pity-party. I am ashamed to admit it. I put up the lights, decked the halls, all the while moping and muttering about my useless family. This continued until my poor father made the unwise choice to walk through the living room and very nicely say, “Hey that looks great darling.”. Let me tell you, he got an earful. “No thanks to you guys, this is something we are supposed to do together and its not the same and yada yada yada!” These were just some of the things I squeaked at him. He looked very taken aback and immediately asked what else needs doing.
As I set him the task of hanging up Christmas cards, I felt very childish. That I shouldn’t care so much about this, surely there are more important things. But as my sister returned and let me take photos of her, and the dog wagged her tail and looked loving up at me, and as my Mom exclaimed in delight at the finished tree, I realised why this tradition is so important to me. It’s not really about making everything look perfect, or even about putting up the decorations. It’s about time with my family, time surrounded by beautiful things, by memories of Christmas’ past, time spent laughing at silly hats or old cards we find buried in those boxes. About creating a beautiful space and capturing it forever with the family I love. Even when they get everything wrong.
Here is some of the result of this emotional evening:
Wishing you a holly jolly Christmas,